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Can Cat Get Caries? - Cavities in Cats, Symptoms and Treatment

Laura García Ortiz
By Laura García Ortiz, Veterinarian specialized in feline medicine. February 15, 2022
Can Cat Get Caries? - Cavities in Cats, Symptoms and Treatment

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If you notice symptoms in your cat such as bad breath, discomfort in the mouth, aversion to certain foods, or less hunger it could be related periodontitis. Periodontal disease is a condition characterized by the shearing off and degradation of the tooth structure at or below the gum line, resulting in painful, bloody lesions as well as the destruction of the entire tooth structure. Untreated periodontitis can cause the disease to worsen with age.

In this AnimalWised article you will learn everything you need to know about cavities in cats, its symptoms and treatment.

  1. What are cavities?
  2. Causes of tooth decay in cats
  3. Symptoms of caries in cats
  4. How to cure cavities in cats?
  5. How to avoid cavities in cats?

What are cavities?

A caries problem involves the breakdown of enamel and demineralization of teeth. In cats, caries is not as common as in dogs because of their natural diet, but some kittens are more susceptible to caries because of their diet or lack of oral hygiene.

Enamel breakdown and demineralization are caused by bacteria present in the mouth that break down the carbohydrates and sugars left in the mouth after each meal, releasing acids that dissolve the calcium salts in the teeth. Infections caused by enamel damage can progress and damage deeper structures such as the pulp and dentin, which can eventually lead to tooth loss.

If you want to learn more about this disease in cats, continue reading our article about periodontal disease in cats.

Causes of tooth decay in cats

Sugars and carbohydrates are the main cause of tooth decay, which is not common in cats because they are animals that get their energy and nutrients from meat, which is high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates. However, there are some foods for cats, such as wet food, that contain a higher percentage of carbohydrates than they need. This puts them at risk of developing tooth decay.

Other causes that can explain the occurrence of caries in cats are the following:

  • Viral diseases such as leukemia, immunodeficiency, rhinotracheitis and calicivirosis.

  • Burping of hairballs from the stomach (due to acidic pH).

  • Low calcium diet or diet with excess vitamin D.

  • Periodontal disease or chronic gingivostomatitis in cats due to bacterial fermentation.

  • Dental fractures.

  • Immune-mediated reactions.

If you want to learn more about other dental problems cats might face, continue reading this article about common dental problems in cats.

Symptoms of caries in cats

Caries can be detected with the naked eye if we open our cat's mouth to see the structures inside. However, there are some clinical signs that indicate that our cat has caries or is suffering from some other dental or oral problem, such as periodontal disease, calculus or chronic feline gingivostomatitis. The most common symptoms are as follows:

  • Anorexia or difficulty chewing
  • Weight loss
  • Toothache
  • Tartar
  • Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums)
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Hypersalivation (salivation)
  • Lethargy or apathy
  • Receding gums Yellow teeth
  • Inactivity
  • Bleeding from teeth
  • Fever

If you cat is presenting these symptoms it might also have to do with an eating disorder, learn more about these symptoms in our article on my cat is skinny but continues eating.

How to cure cavities in cats?

Depending on the severity of caries in cats, treatment varies. If the tooth has one or more small cavities that do not extend deep into the tooth, a filling may be recommended to remineralize and rebuild the tooth, along with a dental cleaning to preserve the rest of the tooth. However, if the dental radiography shows that the dental pulp has been damaged, the tooth must be extracted or endodontic treatment must be performed.

Can Cat Get Caries? - Cavities in Cats, Symptoms and Treatment - How to cure cavities in cats?

How to avoid cavities in cats?

It is very important to maintain good oral health in cats by brushing their teeth with a cat-safe toothbrush and a cat-safe toothpaste. You should never use human toothpaste to brush the teeth of your cat.

The best way to keep your cat's teeth healthy is to feed them hard food that they can chew to break down and then swallow. This is thought to happen because the friction created when the cat breaks hard food on its teeth acts like a brush or squeegee for dirt from the teeth, preventing tartar and food from accumulating between the teeth.

It's also important not to feed cats too much candy and not to spoil them with prizes or carbohydrate-rich snacks to reduce sugar content, which can serve as a substrate for bacteria in their mouths to form acids. However, it is a good idea to give them snacks or foods specifically designed for their oral hygiene.

Wet food is not only good for your cat's kidneys, but it also provides more moisture in the diet, which is especially important since some cats drink very little water each day. Mixing wet food with low quality dry food can make them susceptible to tooth decay, as it usually contains more carbohydrates than dry food. Therefore, it is best to feed wet food once a day, preferably in the morning, and dry food the rest of the day.

Using homemade food is also beneficial for your cat's health. However, this diet should be closely monitored by your veterinarian to ensure it contains all the ingredients and minerals she needs to stay healthy.

Learn more about healthy diets for cats in our article what is the best food for cats.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Can Cat Get Caries? - Cavities in Cats, Symptoms and Treatment, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

  • Harvey, A., Tasker, S. (Eds). (2014). Handbook of Feline Medicine . Ed. Sastre Molina, SL L´Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain.
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Can Cat Get Caries? - Cavities in Cats, Symptoms and Treatment